Does It Behove State Govt To Treat Lokayukta In A Casual And Irresponsible Manner, Says Allahabad HC [Read Judgment]
“The Lokayukta is an independent statutory authority and not a Commission under the State Government nor is he the Chairman of any such statutory Commission under the State Government.”
The Allahabad High Court came down heavily on the Uttar Pradesh Government for cancelling a Type-VI accommodation provided to the Lokayukta and instead allotting a lower category accommodation.
Justice Sanjay Misra, the State Lokayukta, had approached the high court against cancellation of Type-VI accommodation earlier allotted to him and in its place allotting a lower category i.e., Type-V accommodation, subject to terms and conditions, including payment of rent.
Senior Advocate Jaideep Narain Mathur, appearing on behalf of Justice Sanjay Misra, contended that the Lokayukta is entitled to the same benefits and facilities as the Chief Justice of the High Court. He submitted that the said order passed by the state is a blatant attempt by it to belittle the office of Lokayukta.
On the other hand, the state justified the order contending that status of the Lokayukta was akin to that of Chairman/Member of statutory Commission under the State Government, he was only entitled to Type-V official accommodation but as he had been earlier granted Type-VI accommodation, an order was passed rectifying the error.
The bench comprising Justice Devendra Kumar Arora and Justice Rajan Roy observed the Lokayukta is also entitled to rent-free furnished official accommodation just like the high court judges. It also rejected the contentions of the state that the Lokayukta is a Commission under the State Government.
“The fact that as per Section 3 of the Act, 1975 the appointment of a Lokayukta is to be made after consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad and the leader of the opposition in the Legislative Assembly etc. itself goes to show the importance attached to the Office. A Lokayukta is to function as a sentinel to ensure a corruption free Administration,” the bench added.
“Even at the cost of repetition we may again point out that in view of the proviso to Section 5(5), the conditions of service of Lokayukta cannot be altered to his disadvantage after his appointment. Any attempt in this regard by the State would be fraught with serious consequences considering the sensitivity attached to the office as also its independence and impartiality by the statute itself,” the bench added.
As a parting shot, the bench put these queries to the state government: “Is it because of the sensitive nature of the duties performed by the Lokayukta? Is it an attempt to belittle and humiliate the incumbent of the august Office? Does it behove the State Government to treat the Lokayukta in such a casual and irresponsible manner? We leave these questions to be pondered over by the highest functionaries of the State and to decide for themselves.”